A Postcard from Tour: Providence
Regifting a Moment
One from the road…
The only reason the flight wasn’t cancelled was because the plane was needed at LaGuardia the next morning, meaning it would’ve flown empty.
As it stood, I’d be the only passenger departing Providence, Rhode Island for New York that night. I’d done an event at Brown University that day, a Friday, and then waited five hours in the airport to fly out. Mine was the last flight out. I was the only passenger at the gate, and the last passenger in the airport.
In those days I’d buy a stack of tabloids to kill time reading. The World Weekly News, of course. The Star. The National Enquirer. Those tabloids. Not for the celebrity gossip so much as for the far-fetched stories set in China or Russia, always attributed to so-called experts whose names were never given. They were like a peek into the subconscious of the moment. A mix of cryptozoology and the undead. These stories about Bigfoot and the Mothman and reanimated ancient Martian mummies were like reading source material for The X-Files or The Night Stalker.
These tabloids were like paging through an extended Rorschach Test of western civilization. Whether ghost stories or demonic possession or half-human half-animal mash-ups, these stories seemed to express an eternal desire for spirituality. For something beyond the visible world.
It’s for this same reason I love the radio program Coast to Coast with George Noory. The endless exploration of legends and conspiracies, presented late into the night — by radio, so you’re only listening, perhaps in the dark, most likely while in bed — strikes me as the ideal adult bedtime story. A system for ushering grown-ups into the dream world.
I like to imagine Joseph Campbell and George Lucas also listening and appreciating how mythology evolves but remains eternal.
Comics legend Brian Michael Bendis told me about when his fellow comics legend David Mack crashes at the Bendis household. How Mack always falls asleep listening to different podcasts in which authoritative male voices lecture on the crypto animal world of yetis and Faulk monsters and mermaids. I’d wager, because these serve as the same kind of bedtime stories that can put him to sleep regardless of where Comic Cons and Wizard Cons take him in the world.
Before podcasts and online videos, the classic tabloids served that same function for me. Even now I’ll surf the Tor world and the BitChute world for crazy-sounding lectures that come across more like sermons. They confirm age-old hatreds and aspirations, and comfort me in an odd-ball way. People always seem to hate the same people. People always fear the same things. People always claim to be right. Life is absurd.
So there I was in the Providence airport reading crap for five hours. My plane boards. I’m the only passenger in a cabin that seats 100+ so I have to sit in the very middle of the plane so it has the correct tack and balance for take off and landing. The sole flight attendant has to sit in the seat across the aisle from mine.
As we fly up the East River, we’re level with the upper floors of Manhattan high rises. It’s almost dark, a summer evening. The flight attendant takes the seat next to me as we make our approach for landing. We’re both of us staring out the window at the lighted windows so close, and she whispers, “I love this part. I always love this moment.”
In another minute we’ll be strangers once more. We will never again see each other. But part of me will always be sitting next to her, staring at the skyline of Manhattan and hearing her whisper.